Ipswich initiative attracts attention
A UNIQUE scheme which is handing control of three Ipswich roads back to pedestrians is attracting global media attention.The £480,000 Shared Space initiative under way in the Handford Road area is one of the first in the country to create 'naked roads' where signs and barriers are being removed to make motorists pay more attention to their surroundings.
A UNIQUE scheme which is handing control of three Ipswich roads back to pedestrians is attracting global media attention.
The £480,000 Shared Space initiative under way in the Handford Road area is one of the first in the country to create 'naked roads' where signs and barriers are being removed to make motorists pay more attention to their surroundings.
Its ground-breaking nature has led to Ipswich being talked about in Canada, South Africa, Australia, Germany and across the United States as roads planners everywhere debate whether it is the way forward for the world's roads.
Articles discussing the project, which is part of a four-year European Union scheme, have appeared in The Advertiser in Adelaide, Australia, the German newspaper Der Spiegel, Canada's Globe and Mail and on the South African website Motoring.co.za.
The scheme has also appeared in newspapers in Seattle, Houston, Chicago, Memphis, Tampa Bay, St Louis and in USA Today.
The Evening Star first began reporting on the story nearly two years ago when Ipswich secured funding to be the British lead in the project, alongside six other towns in the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Belgium.
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Guy McGregor, Suffolk County Council's highways spokesman, said the international publicity surrounding the project showed that Ipswich was leading the way in finding new ways to make roads safer.
He said: “We want to make our towns more attractive places to live.
“No longer is the car dominant. The idea of Shared Spaces is one where motorists take more responsibility.”
The work on Handford Road, Alderman Road and Cullingham Road has seen footpaths lowered and widened, road signs removed and the road surfaces changed. Work on resurfacing the Mile End intersection with Handford Road should be completed by spring.
The aim is to make drivers less sure about their surroundings by removing the normal warning signs that tell them where to drive and how fast to go in the hope that they will be forced to slow down and be more considerate to other users of the roads.
Mr McGregor says the initial success of the Ipswich project means it is likely to be developed elsewhere.
He said: “This is not just an idea we want to try out. We want to improve the quality of life for the people who live there.”
'Naked roads' were pioneered in The Netherlands in the 1970s when the towns of Makkinga and Drachten were cleared of clutter in a project headed by visionary urban planner Hans Mondermann.